Semifinals Preview

By Josh Schafer | Sep 3, 2021

Happy Friday!

If you’re like most people and your bracket is already in the trash, don’t worry. There are plenty of side wagers to look into for this weekend and we highlight some below. But before the Rocky training montage begins in preparation for this weekend’s games in Philly,  a reminder on some of the futures still out there on the DraftKings Sportsbook.

The two-time defending champion Whipsnakes are the favorite to win the next two games coming in at +175. Next up is the top seeded Waterdogs at +250 followed by +275 for Atlas and +400 for Chaos.

But first we have the semifinals this Sunday in the City of Brotherly Love. Grab your favorite cheesesteak and let’s pick ‘em.

No. 2 Atlas vs. No. 6 Chaos

Sunday, September 5th at 11:00 a.m. ET | NBCSN & Peacock

All-time series: Atlas leads 2-1

Player to watch: Atlas attack Jeff Teat, No. 7

A rookie of the year candidate despite missing the early portion of the season, Teat has exceeded lofty expectations in his first season. He leads Atlas in points, one-point goals and assists entering this matchup with Chaos. How the electrifying rookie plays against a stiff Chaos defense could be an early indicator of if Chaos will be able to bully another opponent.

The last time these two teams played, Teat scored four goals in a win. It was just the second time this season he’s scored more than two goals in a game. DraftKings Sportsbook has his goal over/under set at 2.5 goals.

Stat to know: 26%

When the ball is settled, Chaos has dominated defensively, allowing goals on just 26% of possessions. Chaos has allowed more than 10 goals in just one of their games this season. In the semifinals we saw a defense once again impose its will on an attack unit. Slowing the game down defensively is a clear strategy for Chaos, and one that’s worked for the Atlas throughout the season too. Watch for some extended possessions and good defense in this one. Not a bad game to consider the under on the 23.5 over/under. 

Why the Atlas: The Atlas have more flash here. Though they preach the “everybody eats” mindset, fresh off a rebuild the Atlas’ young talent has shined all over the field. Add in one of the most consistent faceoff specialists in Trevor Baptiste and it’s easy to see how one of the PLL’s best teams in the regular season keeps rolling.

Why the Chaos: Chaos has been a different team in the playoffs over the past two seasons. With extended time to come up with a defensive gameplan, it’s unlikely Jeff Teat can easily post four goals again. With Blaze Riorden in cage and a group of defensemen that just clamped down the Archers offense, there’s plenty to like about the Chaos defense here.

But the reason Chaos is the pick here is because of how its offense can complement the stellar defensive play. Blaze Riorden has created more goals (9) via outlets than any goalie in the league while Atlas has just three goals created from goalies as a team. Atlas loses this year have come against that spread the ball around. Look for the Chaos two-man game to shine through.

The pick: Put me in whatever low percentage Chaos players are yelling after the game. I’ll take the underdog Chaos here.


No. 1 Waterdogs vs. No. 5 Whipsnakes

Sunday, September 5th at 1:30 p.m. ET | NBCSN & Peacock

All-time series: Waterdogs lead, 1-0

Player to watch: Waterdogs goalie Dillon Ward, No. 37

The Waterdogs had a clear turn midway through the season but perhaps no one player had a  bigger turnaround than Waterdogs goalie Dillon Ward. The former Team Canada goalie appears to have turned the corner, notching a 60% save percentage or better over the Waterdogs final four games. In the regular season matchup against the Whipsnakes he stopped 19 shots with a 76% save percentage.

Other players to watch in this matchup will be the crew that didn’t play in the first game. Waterdogs head coach Andy Copelan said earlier this week that Whipsnakes were probably at 70% the last time these two teams played. The Whipsnakes offense will be much different from the 11-6 loss in Denver with the addition of Matt Rambo and Justin Guterding in the semifinals matchup. Waterdogs attack, and second overall pick in the 2021 College Draft, Michael Sowers is also expected to make his return on Sunday.

Stat to know: 0

The Whipsnakes haven't lost a playoff game in the PLL. The two-time defending champions are a perfect 5-0 in playoff games and have played at a different level with elimination on the line. Whether you believe it’s random luck or the Whipsnakes are actually just better at handling big moments, the empirical evidence points to a certain result in this one.

Why the Waterdogs: Waterdogs earned the top seed in the PLL for a reason. The team was on fire down the stretch including four straight wins entering Sunday. The offense appears to have figured things out with Ryan Brown and Kieran McArdle serving as finishers that a team can’t slide off of. With the addition of Sowers back into the lineup at either midfielder or his natural attack position, the Waterdogs could score enough to supplement it’s tough defense.

The Waterdogs will need it’s top rated transition defense to perform at a high level on Sunday as the Whipsnakes like to take advantage of odd-man opportunities. In the regular season matchup, the Waterdogs faceoff specialist Jake Withers dominated Joe Nardella, winning 74% of his draws. No one wins more faceoffs after losing the clamp than Withers. Ryland Rees and Zach Currier are first and second in wing ground balls.  It will require a gritty performance at the stripe, but that’s nothing a few Peterborough Ontario natives can’t handle.

Why the Whipsnakes: The combination of Matt Rambo and Zed Williams at attack is always hard to pick against. Williams scored nine points in the semifinal matchup including four goals. Through two seasons in the PLL, he’s been able to pull the Whipsnakes out of tough situations and back into the game.

The Whipsnakes need Nardella to win his clamps on Sunday and be much better than he was a few weeks back. With two weeks to watch tape, history shows Nardella can likely find a way to at least break even with Withers this time. That combined with bringing Rambo and Guterding into the lineup make this a totally different matchup, and likely one that favors the team that’s been at the top for two years, even if the defense isn’t playing outstanding this year.

The pick: It's the team on top until someone knocks them off, give me the Whipsnakes.

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